# Correlation of detector dog alerts to cocaine decomposition products found in illicit forensic specimens

#### Abstract

The volatile chemicals which comprise the odor of the illicit drug cocaine have been analyzed by adsorption onto activated charcoal followed by solvent elution and GC/MS analysis. A series of field tests have been performed to determine the dominant odor compound to which dogs alert. All of our data to date indicate that the dominant odor is due to the presence of methyl benzoate which is associated with the cocaine, rather than the cocaine itself. When methyl benzoate and cocaine are spiked onto U.S. currency, the threshold level of methyl benzoate required for a canine to signal an alert is typically 1-10 $\mu$g. Humans have been shown to have a sensitivity similar to dogs for methyl benzoate but with poorer selectivity/reliability. The dominant decomposition pathway for cocaine has been evaluated at elevated temperatures (up to 280$\sp\circ$C). Benzoic acid, but no detectable methyl benzoate, is formed. Solvent extraction and SFE were used to study the recovery of cocaine from U.S. currency. The amount of cocaine which could be recovered was found to decrease with time. ^

#### Subject Area

Chemistry, Analytical

#### Recommended Citation

Ya-Li Hsu, "Correlation of detector dog alerts to cocaine decomposition products found in illicit forensic specimens" (January 1, 1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI1389181.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI1389181

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